NEW YORK. COLD AND RAINY NEW YORK.

A couple of weekends ago Breeah and I hitched a ride onto Amtrak with two of her friends for a whirlwind stay in New York City. Saturday and Sunday were spent in the Big Apple and let’s just say, Sunday didn’t treat me kindly…

First off, waking up at 2:45 AM (after getting to sleep at around 10:45) to prep for a 5 AM train ride out of Union Station in D.C. isn’t the most refreshing way to start a day. I don’t sleep in a moving environment either – I need a bed, a pillow and a blanket (a teddy bear is always a plus too). Don’t get me wrong, I don’t need creature comforts, I just need them to sleep.

Fast forward to the flipside of that Amtrak ride – we left Penn Station in NYC at just after 10 PM for a 1:40 AM arrival in D.C. on Monday morning. Sound bad? I have to be up at 6:30 to get to work the next day. Couple that with a chilly, wet Sunday walking the streets of the city with a failing umbrella on a combined 11 hours of sleep over nearly three days and I’m toast (well, almost)…

I swear, sometimes it’s almost easier just to drive – but I wasn’t about to take on that challenge in Manhattan.

Breeah and I under a bridge near the Central Park South entrance

All things considered – the trip was a relative success, if you measure that by sights taken in on time allotted. Saturday was clearly the winner of the two days, so I’ll get to that on another day.

We left our Times Square hotel at 11 AM and sought out an impromptu two hot dog “breakfast” at a local Nathan’s. From there we walked north until we saw the trees of Central Park. To me this brief stopover in the misty and mystical woods within the city might have been the highlight of the day (for me at least). It’s really amazing how you truly are transported out of big city when you enter the park. It’s a rather comforting feeling, rainy day or not.

You leave the city behind when you visit Central Park

Sunday was a bit more scattershot with the “plans”. To be honest, I didn’t really have a whole lot of plans for this day other than to walk around the SoHo area and eventually make it down to the 9-11 Memorial. My main goal was to hit up Obscura – the antiques and oddities store featured on the Discovery (and Science Channel) show Oddities. It was a little out of the way in East Village and from there we’d walk to SoHo and in hopes of spotting a Kardashian or two.

Yeah – that plan was probably better for a warm, dry day. But we had no other plan to work with, so on we went.

I have a feeling anything bought here wouldn't have passed a security inspection...

Obscura is about as kooky and oddball as it gets, which, obviously, it’s trying to be. The TV show centers around a rather normal looking trio who deal with various eccentric people and items ranging from fossilized poop to old embalming tables and shrunken heads. I know I was the only one of our group actually interested in being there (Breeah was more or less revolted by it – and I don’t blame her, but I guess I looked at it as something that makes for entertaining television). I scooped up a t-shirt and we were out of there before the group behind us could make a decision on whether to purchase a mountain coyote head for their place…

A long, wet walk to SoHo got us a glimspe of Kris Jenner. I don’t lie – a gaggle of teen and young twentysomething girls were gathered in front of the newest Kardashian venture – the Dash boutique store. As cheesy as it seems, I felt the need to catch a glimpse of the goings-on inside through the window before security intervened. A camera crew (but no customers) were inside likely filming something for our soggy brains to digest on E! a few months from now. At least we can say we were there!

The cascading falls at the 9-11 Memorial...truly stunning

Last and certainly not least, we continued on to the 9-11 Memorial – something everyone visiting the Apple needs to do. Yes, it’s a slight hassle – you need to reserve tickets (free) in advance and go through an airport style screening and present your paper tickets three separate times (in the rain, with paper tickets, can multiply the frustration by a couple ticks). That said, just bite your lip and suck it up – your at the 9-11 Memorial, which is a soul grabbing experience if there ever was one.

I didn't know Patrick John "Paddy" Brown when I shot this photo - but learned a little more about the heroic FDNY firefighter here

The waterfall fountains take the shape of the foundation of the twin towers and seem to go on forever into the ground – a really gripping tribute to those who have fallen. I’ve yet to read the meaning behind this design but your experience will be more fulfilled if you go there and let it inspire your own thoughts. All the names of those who perished are etched into the stone surrounding the waterfalls. Trees have been planted – including a lone surviving pear tree that somehow grew back to life after being rescued from ground zero and then later restored there last year. I almost felt guilty and ashamed for being so tired and cold (but I think all four of us were at that point now) so we checked out the gift store to get out from the cold and then headed to a nearby sports bar to get some food and regain some energy. I would have liked to stay a bit longer…

The new World Trade Center towers are nearing completion, just ten years since the tragic events

My day wandering the streets of Manhattan ended eating pavement. Yes, a perfect end to a gloomy day turned me upside down (literally) when my feet came up from under me on a slippery and sloped sidewalk somewhere near or on Vessey Street. Fortunately I wasn’t hurt and my ego wasn’t totally busted since the only people who saw my fall was the rest of our little group. We headed back to Penn Station for a few hours of waiting for our train (after accidentally taking a subway ride to Brooklyn first…oops).

Three lessons learned. Don’t do New York in the rain if you can avoid it – there are no free shopping malls to wander around that are particularly easy to get to. Don’t try to schedule a full (and I mean FULL weekend) in New York without taking at least one day off of work. And please do try the Nuts 4 Nuts stands – they sell good, um, nuts…

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